Reflections on The Empowering Women Podcast – Episode 2

You_got_this photo with podcast

Let’s just into Episode 2 features Renee Joseph, Vice President at Johnson Controls. In this Empowering Women podcast, Renee shares her career path, explaining how she started her career in the HVACR space without any technical training. She courageously describes her experience leaving the workforce to become a caretaker for her terminally-ill father, and the verve she mustered to return to her career. Renee has exceptional, heart-felt advice for women working their way up in male-dominated career spaces. It’s also obvious from her talk that she has a deep passion for diversity, and works towards improving the environment for all people in the HVACR space.

Her quote really spoke to me: “You really have to make sure everyone has a seat at the table and that you encourage and coach out those voices so that everyone can be heard.” 


As Renee talks about the unknown world of equipment behind the walls, it also reminds me of the awesome work men and women do that they don’t celebrate.  So many times, the ones that do the best work don’t want to be in the “spotlight”.  They are working for the greater good, so I believe it is my job to show them the importance of celebrating what’s worthwhile, scratch that! What’s Essential! It is necessary to create role models, super heroes, and to shine a light on the stories of our ‘unsung’ heroes.  We know you are awesome, but we also need everyone else to know that as well!

Renee’s interview is special to me because I met her in January at the AHR expo, and well… I feel in LOVE.  She was so Charismatic and Graceful!  I was in awe. Let me tell you the story… After a long day at AHR, we pushed through to the “Coolest Women in the World” event (CHEERS to those who organized that event, btw!).

Coolest_Women_in_the_World photo

As we entered, were given 5 bracelets to exchange as we met new people. We grabbed a glass of wine and began to meet the people in the room.  I was determined to meet the woman who put the event together. I spoke to several organizers, and then one gentlemen at my table said “I know exactly who you need to meet! WAIT HERE… I’ll bring her to you.”    Ok can we first say… how many people do that?!  Bring a perfect connection to you!

When she walked up, I was star-struck. She began to speak about the event and her career.  She was so passionate about connecting women and raising awareness about the awesome careers “behind the walls”.  She told me about the book she had just completed about her father’s life, how she taught herself how to write, and how special it was to tell her story of how he served his community by driving the school bus every day. Bottom line…We have so many opportunities to learn from someone’s story.  I feel honored to have met such a pioneer. Please listen to Renee Joseph‘s story here:

A short pause…I had to take a break from writing this article to have ice cream with my mom and daughter (because sometimes ice cream with loved ones just can’t wait ;D ). And now…a quote that came to me during that ice cream break:

“Thoughts can change your attitude immediately”

Which is why listening to the Empowering Women podcast is so powerful and enlightening…

On to Episode 3…

Reflections on The Empowering Women Podcast – Episode 1

You_got_this photo with podcast

Working with the Empowering Women in Industry team this year has been so rewarding!  I have loved connecting with so many inspiring women and learning from them.  Since the start of the Empowering Women podcast, I have been thinking about how I could share some of the lessons I had learned from listening to their stories. I believe listening to each of these Empowering Women stories can help you in your careers.  I understand that each person will relate to a different part of each of these stories.  Hopefully, this summary of my thoughts won’t distract you from your own, but add to them. Here goes…

The Introduction to Empowering Women Podcast with Mel the Engineer.  Can we just stop to appreciate the amazing podcast Mel put together… from the sounds to the vision to better the lives of career women and help them succeed – I am inspired by her every day.  And let’s just say – she knows how to pick out cool podcast tunes. Listen to it here:

In episode 1, Lynn Spivey, the Director of Utilities for the City of Plant City in Florida, shares her career path. She started her early career in the U.S. Airforce working for a defense contractor in electronics. She went to school for Chemical Engineering and ended up in the municipal water and wastewater sector. Lynn has a wonderful perspective on navigating tricky career situations, and the Empowering Women team hopes you enjoy this first episode. The most “ah ha!” moment for me was when she talked about “Figuring out your Boundaries.”

Lynn Spivey photo and quote

Lynn explains that if she didn’t establish these boundaries, she was going to enable behavior that she didn’t want. I think everyone is different and everyone has different boundaries; when working in male-dominated fields, I think we all have a different level of “comfort” in setting those boundaries. I speak to women all the time that like being the only woman in the room; while others don’t like it one bit.  Having said that, today, we need to create an inviting space and demonstrate an appropriate place for women and men to work together.

Lynn makes another powerful statement: “How strong am I?”  Said a different way… what is my level right now? What can I handle today? I love that she poses those questions as these are questions we can ask ourselves…this is the part of the podcast that we can apply to our own lives. Sometimes, we aren’t in a position of strength and this is a moment where we can be taken advantage of. So, let’s ask ourselves about our own strength and our own thresholds. We need to know what this is for ourselves, so that when the occasion arises to draw (or re-draw) a boundary, that we are able to take control of the situation.

I love how she discusses “Experimenting” with her boundaries. It’s not ‘black and white’, though a lot of people want it to be. It’s just not!  It makes me think about my own inclination to hug people. I am a hugger. That’s just me! But I realize that not everyone wants a hug, and it’s a lesson I continue to learn.  I basically announce that I am a hugger and read the person’s reaction. Usually, I don’t hug people in business settings if it is my first time meeting them. I tend to hug the person I know in the group first. Having said that, sometimes I forget and I think it is important to notice and say sorry to the people I may have made uncomfortable. I believe in a world where hugs are great for everyone, but I also understand other people have a different boundary.

Another concept that occurred to me while I was listening to this episode was about the environmental influences in our careers. Most of us are introduced to many different career choices… how do we decide which job to pick?  If we are introduced to the skills needed to do each of these jobs, we can decide which fits us best. Lynn made a choice to join the army to be educated to obtain the opportunity she needed to be successful.  I believe finding the opportunity for growth is the biggest obstacle for growth. This reminds me that it’s our job to be the pioneers to shine a light on these opportunities… for the incoming workforce. We need to have cross-training programs that allow our new professionals to gain experience.  For Lynn, she now has the influence to make the water industry better, and I look forward to following her leadership.

Listen to Lynn Spivey‘s story here:

Once you’ve listened to the first one, it’s close to impossible not to hit ‘play’ on the next episode…

Read my reflections on the Empowering Women Podcast Episode 2 !